We’re nearly two weeks from the start of fall camp, so here is a recruiting update to get everyone excited about the prospects the Huskies are looking at! The Huskies got a couple of commits recently for the 2014 class in WR Erik Brown and CB Jonathan Lockett. Both are great gets for the Huskies and real quality players who might not "wow" you with their athleticism but have great fundamentals and football skills. The commitment from Lockett is especially exciting since he hails from Mater Dei High School in Orange County, which is typically a strong USC feeder school. Quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Matt Leinart came from Mater Dei, so to pluck a 4 star corner with great ball skills (he had 7 picks last season) from a Southern California football power is great for the long term inroads into that region. Lastly, Lockett was known to be a huge Oregon lean, so to pluck him away when he was ready to commit to the Ducks at The Opening is huge.
Numbers wise, this projects to be a smaller class and I anticipate somewhere around 15-18 signees. That means they probably won’t be going after a quarterback, especially considering the talent already stockpiled on the roster. Lastly, this projects as potentially an excellent recruiting class should the Huskies win at least 8 or 9 games. If they reach those heights, elite national recruits will give the Huskies a serious look. If they cannot manage more than 7 wins the class could end with a thud. That aside, here is a snapshot of some of the big time recruits Washington is after, as well some of the more intriguing athletes giving Washington a look. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if there’s a prospect out there you would like to hear about, let me know in the comments and I’ll let you know what I find!
Name: Bishard "Budda" Baker
Height/Weight: 5-9, 172
High School: Bellevue
ESPN Rating: 83 grade...#8 rated safety...#141 overall
Scout Rating: #4 rated safety
ESPN Scouting: "Baker is a fast-pursuing, athletic safety prospect with a lot of productivity around the football in both run and pass support...Shows very good closing burst, and while he might not possess great top-end speed, he covers a lot of ground quickly."
Recruiting Update: Budda Baker is as much a must get for Washington as it comes this recruiting cycle. First, he is a truly dynamic athlete and a lighting rod in cleats on both sides of the ball, as well as on special teams. He plays running back and safety at Bellevue, but at The Opening he was tried at receiver and absolutely tore it up. He had something like 7 or 8 touchdown catches over the course of the camp and had no trouble getting open. He is truly an elite player. Second, he plays a position of need for Washington. The Huskies matriculate 5 players in the secondary after this season and need numbers, especially at safety. As impressive a player he is on the field, off it, he takes his studies very seriously and insists his teachers call him Bishard, not his nickname "Budda". He maintains UW, Oregon, and UCLA as his top 3. I think this comes down to a UW-Oregon battle, with UCLA in a more distant 3rd. In a recent interview, he talked about his strong connection with the UW coaches and the family atmosphere of the team, which seems to be a theme among recruits when talking about Washington. Ultimately, I think Washington has the inside track for his services.
Name: Kaleb McGary
Height/Weight: 6-8, 272
High School: Fife
Position: OT, DE
ESPN Rating: 75 grade...#59 rated OT
Scout Rating: #25 rated offensive tackle
Recruiting Update: McGary is a very intriguing prospect in that he projects multiple positions, and could be both an offensive tackle or a big defensive end. After seeing him at the Northwest Elite Football Camp, the Husky coaches have told him they want him as a big defensive end. You can watch some drills of him in the YouTube highlights above, and decide for yourself. McGary is extremely long and athletic, and most importantly, he always talks about how he loves to hit. Along with Budda Baker, McGary is only other truly blue chip prospect in the state. At this point, these are the only two in state prospects that I see the coaches really prioritizing, and with a major need to upgrade the talent on the defensive line, he's going to be courted until the end. And like Baker, I think UW has the best chances to land him, and ultimately will. Oregon State is one to look out for, however.
Name: Demario Richard
Height/Weight: 5-10, 200
High School: Palmdale (CA) High School
ESPN Rating: 80 grade...#42 rated RB
Scout Rating: #26 rated RB
ESPN Scouting: "In addition to his outstanding ball carrying skills, Richard flashes middle screen receiver skills and his hands appear natural...Shows very good vision to the hole and at the second level...We see outstanding lateral agility and he can shake defenders...Although not a power back, this guy is a tough customer."
Recruiting Update: Demario was at UW last month, and his Facebook had some pictures of him in UW gear flashing a "W", which hopefully is a good sign. Furthermore, he extended his visit by a couple of days and skipped tripping down to Oregon for an unofficial visit. He's a very good back, and has offers from almost all the Pac-12, as well as the likes of Tennessee, West Virginia, and Nebraska. His top two schools are UW and ASU, with West Virginia moving up. He said he's going to announce on his birthday, December 2nd, after taking all his visits. He's one of the top runners in the west and would be a great get. As any follower of the football team has seen, you need a stable of talented backs because the position is one that easily can get hit with injuries. In addition, running back is one of the hardest positions to develop, and you really need to recruit talent to the position. Tough call to say where he'll land, but Washington definitely has a chance.
Name: John "JuJu" Smith
Height/Weight: 6-1.5, 185
High School: Long Beach (CA) Poly High School
Position: S, ATH
ESPN Rating: 84 grade...#6 rated safety...#60 overall
Scout Rating: #1 rated safety
ESPN Scouting: "Smith is a smart football player with tremendous football instincts. While he is an impressive wide receiver, his greatest upside might be on defense as a safety...A physically imposing player, but more in presence than in stature...Explosive and sudden in his stop and start ability...Offensively, he is a playmaker with natural instincts and ball skills...Reads and reacts instantly. Breaks quickly in run support and doesn't shy away from delivering the hit..."
Recruiting Update: The good news about JuJu (besides the possibility of someday having a starting safety tandem named JuJu and Budda) is that UW definitely could be in the mix for him. Johnny Nansen, Husky Running Backs Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, is his uncle which bodes well for Washington. In addition, the fact that immediate playing time is up for grabs next year is very intriguing to him. He has stated he wants to head up to Washington this summer on an unofficial visit, so keep an eye out for him and his recruitment. In his most recent interview at the Prime Time Polynesian Camp, he said Michigan, Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Ole Miss, UCLA, and Notre Dame are his main schools, but that "Washington has also been picking up their interest." He's definitely a long shot, and did not even mention Washington among his 5 schools he is taking official visits to.
Name: Ainuu Taua
Height/Weight: 6-1, 293
High School: Lompoc (CA) Senior High School
ESPN Rating: 82 grade...#16 rated DT...#207 overall
Scout Rating: #8 rated DT
ESPN Scouting: "Lacks ideal height at right around 6-feet, but has a thick build, and displays very good playing strength. Quick in the short area...Can be a handful as an interior pass rusher...Can be quick off the ball and is capable of disrupting with penetration...Taua can be an active and violent presence in the trenches. Reminds you a little of 2013 Washington signee, Elijah Qualls..."
Recruiting Update: Defensive tackle is one the toughest positions to find quality players at, and for a while with Taua, the Huskies thought they had their man. Hailing from the same high school as 2013 signee Lavon Coleman, Ainuu is extremely tough to move off the line, and can be a great run stuffer, with enough quickness and disengaging skills to be an effective inside pass rusher. After the coaches saw him in person, and realized that he is in the sub 6-foot height range, they might take a pass at him, as they try to go for longer athletes on the defensive line (re: Kaleb McGary). At the Prime Time Poly Camp he said that Ole Miss, UCLA, and Washington are the main schools he is considering, but that he does not have a favorite. Hard to read this one but it's definitely a possibility the coaches could have passed on him after seeing him in person.
Name: John Plattenberg
Height/Weight: 6-0, 184
High School: Corona (CA) Centennial
ESPN Rating: 72 grade...#86 rated S
Scout Rating: #18 rated CB
ESPN Scouting: "Plattenburg posses decent size for a safety...Plays with decent instincts. He is quick to react to the run and when playing zone is in position to make plays on poorly thrown balls quite often...His speed and ability to cover ground will be a huge plus...he makes a lot of plays with positioning."
Recruiting Update: Plattenburg is a prospect that has really come alive the recently in the recruiting cycle. In April, he stood with just 3 offers, and now has over 20 scholarships to his name. He had an excellent performance at the Oakland NFTC where he was MVP for the defensive backs. He has even received an invitation to The Opening, one of the premier camps on the west coast. He says he has a good relationship with Keith Heyward and that Washington has definitely made their mark. With Coach Heyward's excellent transformation of the secondary last year, and Desmond Trufant's first round draft selection, there are some good reasons to think Plattenburg could wind up a Dawg, and he's the most likely player to be our next commit. He's moving to Texas for his senior year of high school and as we saw last year with Daeshon Hall, anything can happen.
Name: Joe Mixon
High School: Oakley (CA) Freedom High School
Height/Weight: 6-1, 208
Scout Rating: #5 rated RB
ESPN Rating: 83 grade...#9 rated RB...#137 overall
ESPN Scouting: "While Mixon lacks elite open field speed and elusiveness, this is a well-rounded back. Has really polished hands and receiving skills -- one of his better assets. Comfortable in the slot and can create separation naturally...Possesses a great burst and acceleration. At his best as a one-cut-and-go inside and outside runner; will exploit a vertical seam...This is a tall, muscular prospect with wiry strength. Has good top-end speed for a tall, 200-pound back with his thickness."
Recruiting Update: Mixon, along with Demario Richard, are the top two backs on Washington's board. He's one of this year's elite runners, and while he has offers from the likes of Ohio State, Texas, and Notre Dame, expect the Huskies to be in it until the end. In other words, it would be a huge surprise if there wasn't a purple hat on the table when he makes his announcement. He hails from the same high school as 2013 recruit Darrell Daniels, so the Husky coaches have been building a relationship with him for a while and UW always comes up in conversations with him. It looks like he'll stay in the Pac-12 when it's all said and done, but Texas could be an option if he leaves the region. He attended the Spring Game so there is certainly a good relationship between him and the coaches.
Name: Michiah Quick
High School: Fresno (CA) Central East High School
Height/Weight: 6-0, 170
Scout Rating: #1 rated WR
ESPN Rating: 86 grade...#3 rated ATH...#32 overall
ESPN Scouting: "He is a lean, fluid player with nice height. A smooth and flexible glider who does not look like he is moving all that fast, but has great speed and is very flexible through the hips...He possesses natural ball skills and quick hands...He is a home run waiting to happen. A threat to go the house on INTs. He's very elusive. Is quick, shifty and explosive...Quick is an explosive jet of a weapon and might be one of the best skill position players this class has to offer -- and at more than one position."
Recruiting Update: Quick is another one of the elite guys Washington is going after this year and was in Seattle along with Joe Mixon to check out the Spring Game. Washington is in the mix for him and probably in his top 5, though closer to #4 or #5 and not top 3. For a player with his play making ability and athleticism, those are good enough odds.
Name: Drew Clarkson
High School: Camas (WA) High School
Height/Weight: 6-4, 275
Position: OT (offered as a center prospect)
Scout Rating: #53 rated OG
Recruiting Update: While he plays guard and tackle for Camas, the Huskies offered him a center prospect, and seem like his potential there. He's very athletic and has offers from likes of Oregon State, Cal, and Washington State. Washington offered him later than the rest, so currently it appears Cal and Oregon State are leading for him. He's a very bright kid and will take his visits, hit as many camps as possible (including the Rising Stars camp at UW) and try to haul in more offers. Not a great year for offensive linemen in the state, and the west coast in general, but Clarkson is one of the guys that can play at the Pac-12 level.
Name: Andrew Mike
High School: Sabino (AZ) High School
Height/Weight: 6-6, 278
Scout Rating: #13 rated OT
ESPN Rating: 79 grade...#31 rated OT
ESPN Scouting: "This is a tall, leaner tackle prospect who needs to work to continue to fill out his lengthy frame with more good mass. Displays adequate-to-good initial quicks... Can bend at the knees and maintain a good base and slide with rushers once he gets into position... Mike needs to keep physically developing but shows flashes of good ability to get the job done. With some work he could offer multi-position versatility along the O-Line."
Recruiting Update: Washington recently made Mike's top 5, along with Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Stanford (even though he currently does not have an offer from them), and Arizona. This has got to make Husky fans happy because Mike is a great offensive tackle prospect, and his the one highest rated one the Huskies have a shot with. On Washington, he likes the cooler the weather and the thought of leaving Arizona. He's also cited his relationship with Coach Cozzetto, and his track record of developing great offensive linemen. Lastly, he's interested in studying Pre-Med/Biology, which are two fields academically in which Washington excels. Washington has definitely a shot after an official visit, but a Stanford offer could complicate things quite a bit.